Taking the Scenic Route In Marriage #2

fairhaven cottage

My wife and I love to travel over the mountainous, country roads of East Tennessee, Western North Carolina and Southwest Virginia.  What beauty!  What adventure!  What fun!

Sometimes, we come to the end of road and wonder which direction we should turn.  Many times we have lost our GPS signal.  There is a bit of hopelessness in feeling lost, needing direction.

To fully understand today’s blog post, I would encourage you to read Taking the Scenic Route #1. As we saw, the scenic route is not the normal route.  Its less-travelled and not the overwhelming choice. There we learned, first of all, that God created marriage, not man.

Today, and second of all, God directs marriage, not man.

When you take the scenic route, you better have a good map like in the old days or have faith that your GPS keeps a good signal.  Otherwise, you are likely to get lost.

So many marriages today are directionless, struggling, floundering, trying to run on auto-pilot, and so very sadly are on the verge of collapsing altogether.  Why?  Because too many couples are not getting their directions for marriage from the One Who created marriage.  Read carefully the following words: O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps (Jeremiah 10:23).

The Bible, God’s infallible Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17), gives us the truths and principles we need for a God-honoring, role-fulfilling, blessed, satisfying marriage (Genesis 2:18-25; Ephesians 5:18-33; 1 Peter 3:1-7).  Therefore, outside of prayer, the greatest thing you can do for your mate is to be a man or woman of the Word!

You see, it takes three to make a good, biblical marriage: God, the man, and the woman.  This is beautifully illustrated by “The Triangle.”

 

Couples-and-Jesus-triangle

The closer each spouse moves to God, the closer they move toward each other.  But, the further each moves from God, the further they move from each other.

Direction in marriage is so needed every day for each spouse, as well as each other’s own personal, relational growth in Christ (Ephesians 4:12-16; 2 Peter 3:18).

How does this happen?

  1. Read & be clean by the Word (Ps. 119:9; John 15:2-6; 1 John 1:9)
  2. Study the Word (Psalm 119:33-40)
  3. Personalize the Word (Memorize/Meditate — Make it your own (Psalm 119:73-80)
  4. Share the Word (Ephesians 4:15)

There are so many ways to take in the Word of God through Bible apps (YouVersion), Scripture memory apps (ScriptureTyper), and podcasts (Love Worth Finding, Adrian Rodgers).  Be sure to journal what God is saying to you each day.  Then, gather up your journal and your Bible and have a special time with your spouse sharing what the God of your salvation has said to you (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Broken, directionless marriages always involve at least one partner moving away from God, abandoning prayer and the searching of God’s Word.

Consider the following:

  1. Before you take the scenic route, you want to find out where you are going. I like to look at the map and I have an idea of where the road goes. The Word of God gives you a picture in your mind the roads and lay of the land in marriage. The Word of God always keeps you on the right road
  2. Sometimes on the scenic route, you let your intuition (hunch) take over. As you learn the Word and grow in the Word, you will come to rely more and more on the Word in your marriage. In essence, your spiritual instinct takes over.
  3. On the scenic route, if you get lost, you stop and ask for directions. Men usually hate to ask for directions, but in reality, men, you should be the one who is always stopping to pray (ask for directions) and point your wife toward God.

You see, just as the scenic route is not the normal route, a marriage directed by God who created matrimony is not the norm against the backdrop of this world.

Surrender to God today.  Search His Word.  Trust and live out His Word.  Enjoy the journey.

Your most important turn in marriage is the next one! —- Will it be toward God?

The Cats in the Cradle

Leisure

Recently while running the dial on Sirius XM, I heard a song from my teen years sung by Harry Chapin entitled “The Cats in the Cradle.”

This heartbreaking song tells of a father and son who can’t schedule time to be with each other, and it serves as a warning against putting one’s career before family. The verses start out with a natural harmony and depict the tale of a father with his newborn son. Although dad gets the necessities of child rearing accomplished, he doesn’t allow himself to put in quality time with his son because of his career. Initially, this seems like no big deal because of his hectic and oblivious life working and paying bills.

The recurring verse has the son saying, “I’m gonna be like you Dad, you know I’m gonna be like you…”

Over time, both father and son grow into a switching of life roles. The father realizes his son’s ambitions of college, grades, and driving, and wants to spend more time with him, yet slowly grasps the reality that now his son has no time for such things. In the last verse, Chapin illustrates that the son is all grown up with a fast-paced job and kids of his own. In a glaring twist of roles, we see that the son now has no time to spend with his father. With a heavy heart, dad realizes that his boy has become just like him.  (Songfacts.com)

Dads, indeed, your sons are watching and learning you.

Making a connection with yesterday’s blogpost, may I ask you dads, are your sons growing up to be just like you when it comes to your relationship with God?

Will they sing in church like you do?

Will they open their Bible and take notes whenever the Word of God is preached like you do?

Will they be totally engaged in worship on Sundays like you are?

Will they be a man of prayer just like you?

Will they be a ready witness for Christ as you are?

Will they know the Word of God like you do?

Will they have the Word memorized like you do?

Will they be a surrendered servant for Christ just like you?

Will stand and testify of God’s grace, faithfulness and love like you do?

Will they be diligent to add to their original faith because you are?

Will they give diligence to make their calling and election sure because you do?

Will they?

Men, we must be all-out, surrendered men of God like Christ, Moses, Joseph, Joshua, Daniel, Paul, Barnabas, Peter, etc. Not only for the glory of God but for the sakes of our sons who are watching and taking their cues from us.

“The cats in the cradle,” and he will soon be gone.  Will he be just like you?

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Train up a child in the way he should go. (Proverbs 22:6a)

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. (Proverbs 23:24)

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.  Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:11-12)

The Making of a Man: Who You Listen To

Who is the person you listen to more than anyone else?  Bob Kesling (UT Radio Voice)?  Brad Nessler (ESPN)? Shepard Smith (FoxNews)? Your children?  Your wife?  Your boss?  Your co-workers?  Men, the voice you listen to more than anyone else is . . . your own; your own heart.  Throughout a day, no matter what anyone says to you, you always respond to it from your heart.  See, right now, you are already responding to what I have written!  This begs us as men to consider two truths.

You must not listen to your heart.

Jeremiah 17:9 says, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  Just taking this passage at face value, what does it say about your heart?  Do you want to listen to that which is deceitful, full of lies, and desperately wicked?  Do you want to listen to a heart that you cannot fathom, understand, or explain?  Then, why do you listen to yourself?  I listen to myself because I like myself.  I am selfish.  I think I have it all figured out.  See there, I am deceived.  So that leads me to the next principle that is so needed.

You must speak the truth to your heart.

Proverbs 23:7 says, For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.   Instead of listening to myself, I must speak the truth to myself.  There are so many wonderful, life-changing, “keeping me on the right track,” truths from God’s Word that need to be uppermost in my mind and heart.  Here a few right out of Ephesians 1 and based upon my position in Christ:

  • Since Christ is the eternal expression of God’s greatest blessing, I am blessed forever in Christ with all spiritual blessings (3).
  • Since Christ is the Father’s eternally Chosen One, I am chosen in Christ; His forever (4).
  • Since Christ is the accepted and beloved Son of God, I am accepted in the beloved (6).
  • Since Christ is the full payment for my sin, I am redeemed through His blood (7).
  • Since Christ is the access into God’s grace, I am graced forever (7).
  • Since Christ took the wrath of God for my sin, I am reconciled to God (10).

Men, to overcome the deceitfulness of our hearts, we must constantly speak the truth to our hearts.  Stop listening to yourself and start preaching the Truth to yourself today—that’s what we need to hear!

The Making of a Man: Adventurous Dave & Mike

Most men love adventure!  Whether it’s the quest to run and complete a 50K, to climb and repel a sheer rock wall, to soar through a canyon like a bird (Wingsuit – Base Jumping Video), or thread the Bonsai Pipeline and all with a GoPro camera, I’m sure each of your have your definition of adventure!

We had the privilege of hosting two men of adventure this past weekend at our local church.  One man, Dave, left a comfortable position in West Virginia to move his family without the promise of full financial support to a larger city, Raleigh, North Carolina, to start a church in the inner city near North Carolina State University.  The other man, Mike, left the comfortable confines of Florida, doing what he loved, and moved to southern Spain for several years.  While there, he learned the Spanish language and helped to plant churches while raising a family of four.  Seven years ago, he moved to the Basque country of northern Spain to an area steeped in tradition and a completely different language.  Once again, to help a church and serve in an already established ministry among the Basque people as well as other internationals.  Both of these men are just ordinary men who have given their lives to Christ, a life of adventure of faith and courage.  Trusting daily for the supply of God’s grace and watching the Lord always provide spiritually, mentally, socially, financially, and emotionally.

You want adventure?  Give your life as a disciple to completely follow Christ!  Jesus said as recorded in Luke 14:26-27, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”  A disciple of Christ . . .

  • Risks his life for Christ.
  • Walks by faith in Christ.
  • Lives by the Word of Christ.
  • Give his life to proclaim and pursue Christ.
  • Goes wherever Christ leads him to go.
  • Trusts his life to Christ for now and eternity.
  • Suffers and stands for the cause of Christ.
  • Learns of Christ “while sitting at his feet.”
  • Bears the cross and the reproach of Christ.
  • Serves all for the sake of Christ.
  • Willingly surrenders his family to Christ.
  • Give his all to Christ.
  • Lives for the day he will see Christ.
  • Prepares for the day when he will stand before Christ.

Now, men, that’s a life of adventure!  That’s a life filled with purpose! And your Servant Leader, Conqueror, Shepherd, King, Armor, and Captain of your salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ, always leads you in His triumph (2 Corinthians 2:14)!!  And He records it all on His eternal “GoPro” in order to reward you one day at the greatest moment of your life outside of your personal salvation!

So today, if you are men who have been truly born again (John 1:14; 3:16; 14:6), then let’s join Dave and Mike and live a life of adventure with Christ!  The rush of base jumping, kayaking, running, or other extreme sports can be satisfying and fun, but it only last for a short while.  Adventure for Christ lasts a lifetime, is every day, and has eternal rewards! Are you ready for some real adventure?

Marriage Matters: Go Look in the Mirror

Recently my father-in-law said something that I think needs to be repeated.  While talking to my wife on the phone, he recalled his growing up days of wearing his Sunday church clothes for dinner and throughout the whole day.  He continues to do so for the reason that it’s the Lord’s day and that’s how he dresses for church, but there’s another reason that bears repeating, “Your mom sees me in my regular clothes all week and out of respect for her, I like to stay dressed up.”

Men, what do you do out of respect for your wife?  Do you . . .

  • Keep yourself looking nice and fit for your wife? Just an interesting thought here.  We want our wives to look good, but we dress slovenly and with no thought for what she might like.
  • Open the car door for her?
  • Seat her at the table?
  • Speak well of her to others?
  • Clean up after yourself such as pick up your clothes, clean the bathroom sink when you are finished, put the lid down (you know what I mean)?
  • Compliment her in private and public?
  • Make sure her car is taken care of, cleaned out, etc.?

Men, if you aren’t sure, ask your wife.  After all, we are to be the best servants in our home.  Christ gives you His best.  Men, let’s give our wives our best (Ephesians 5:25).

The Making of a Man

Last Tuesday’s blog was the first entry in the weekly series entitled, “The Making of a Man.”  As I said in that blog post, January 6, my heart’s desire is to see us be genuine, Spirit-filled, Christlike, servant leaders . . . men of God.  Obviously, to do so, we MUST be in the Word of God on a daily basis reading the Word and letting it read us.  Also, I mentioned that oft-repeated statement, “Leaders are readers.”  So, in today’s post, I want to share some book titles that have impacted me in my relationship with Christ, my wife, my children, my ministry and life in general.  Many of these books can still be purchased in book form, or as many of us do today, you can get the Kindle edition.  Men, let’s read the Bible first, and then let’s read other good books so we can be made a man of God!

Disciplines of a Godly Man, R. Kent Hughes

“The Christian leader’s vision of God makes all the difference in his life” (p.163).  I have read this book several times and have even used it with deacons and men’s meetings.

Disciplines – Kindle Edition

 

The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make, Hans Finzel

“Top-flight leaders really aren’t born, they learn by trial and error.” (p.18)

“My greatest fear is that our best days were our past days.  I loathe the thought that we should fade into irrelevance” (p.71).

Top Ten Mistakes – Kindle Edition

 

The Masculine Mandate:  God’s Calling to Men, Richard D. Phillips

“It is virtually impossible to find a man greatly used by God who is not strongly devoted to prayer.” (p. 39)

“God intends for man to have a [wife] who bears God’s image along with man, and who with man can look upward to God and live for Him.” (p. 58)

Chapter Five, “Man as Shepherd-Lord,” is an excellent read.

Masculine Mandate – Kindle Edition

 

Power Through Prayer, E.M. Bounds

Here’s a little book that every man of God must read!!  A classic.

Power Through Prayer – Kindle Edition

 

There are many, many others, but these are just a few.  I’ll share more in later posts.  Men, let’s take the challenge to read, to share, to grow, and to make a difference for Christ wherever we live!

Blogging in 2015

As I mentioned yesterday, a special thanks to everyone for reading this blog.  My heart is to simply use this medium of the internet to share things that I love about life and ministry.  Hence, I am refining this blog to cover certain topics each day of the week that I hope will edify and encourage; that will lead to biblical change; that glorify God; and that will show that life is worth living because of Christ.

So, be looking next week for the following:

To the People in the Pews (Mondays) This will be a follow-up to the messages I preach on Sundays with the purpose of helping my congregation make the needed application and taking the next right step in wisdom.

The Making of a Man (Tuesdays) I have such a burden to see men be the spiritual leaders at home, church, work and recreation; to win over sin; to be men of the Word; to be gospel-centered and gospel-communicators.

Marriage Matters (Wednesdays) Being married for over 33 years does not make me an expert on this subject.  I simply love being married, believe it to be the best thing next to my own personal salvation, and am very concerned about the lack of strong marriages in our world today.  Hence, I’ll be sharing all kinds of tips to make marriage a blessing instead of a dread.  Marriage matters to God; He created it.  He has an awesome plan to make it work for His glory and our good . . . and to be fun!

This-N-That (Thursdays) Here’s a day to share various things on my heart about life in general.

Friday’s Findings (Fridays)  I’ll continue to share links to good articles, tell you about a good book or resource, share music, and various other things that I trust will be of interest to you.

Looking forward to 2015 and all that the Lord has in store for us of which may be the year of His return in the clouds (John 14:1-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  Therefore moving forward, let not your heart be troubled (14:1) and comfort one another with these words (4:18).

A Godly Heritage

Yesterday I was reminded of two men that have impacted my life in great ways.  The first was my own father.  Having received a Facebook notification, I saw a picture of my dad standing beside newlyweds of which he had performed their wedding.  There he stood in his suit looking sharp and stately as always.  What memories that picture brought to my mind.  He has been celebrating in the presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ for nearly twelve years. How grateful for a dad who loved “his Jesus,” preached the Word, cared deeply for lost souls, was faithful to my mom and a great provider for her, was a hard worker, prayed passionately, was a giver, loved his siblings and their families, and was a mentor and dear friend to me.   He was shorter in height than me, but he stood tall in my eyes.  How grateful I am today for the godly heritage of my dad.

The second man is my father-in-law.  Yesterday while chatting with him and my mother-in-law via Skype, I was reminded again of what has made him so dear to me.  His personality is one of a quiet demeanor. Even his voice is soft.  As a man “in the background,” he has loomed large as a servant and a giver.  He is always looking out for Mom, his girls, and his grandkids.  You never leave their house without some Ale-8’s, cookies, bottle of water, coffee, etc.  He is always looking for ways to serve you while you are in their home.  He loves sports, UK Wildcats, and southern gospel music.  Every time we visit, those subjects are dear to us.  He and I have enjoyed many concerts over the years preparing our hearts for the day of eternal praise and worship.  He is also a man of a tender heart.  He is having a surgical procedure done today, so before we ended our conversation, we had prayed together.  When we were finished, he had tears in his eyes.  I have seen those tears several times in joy and sorrow; in church, at home, at southern gospel concerts, at our daughter’s funeral, or before we leave to go home, and we gather in the kitchen for prayer.  How grateful I am for the godly heritage of my father-in-law.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1:1-6)

What an Adventure!

Last night while eating supper in a local Lawrenceburg, Indiana, restaurant, I had no problem hearing the conversation of five men at a nearby table. They, too, were out-of-towners and in the area on business. Their ego level was at a fevered pitch! They were doing what men love to do—talk about their exploits, their trips, their adventures, their accomplishments—and all accompanied with laughter and big words (fortunately no swearing)!! Now, before I go any further, I am a man, and the point of this blog is not a negative swipe at my own kind! Easy now.
As I overheard bits and pieces of their triumphs, my mind was drawn to the greatest adventure of life; the most daring of all exploits; the trip of all trips; the primo race of life—–living as a sold-out follower of Jesus Christ who walks by faith and not by sight! As you read Hebrews 12:1, your mind is set on the great cloud of witnesses. Then the writer takes you to the summit, Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). We are exhorted to continually keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, turning from all other distractors. He is the Author, Originator, Leader, Guide, Pioneer, and Finisher, Perfecter, End, Completer, Goal of our faith. As the NLT translates it, Jesus, on Whom our faith depends from start to finish. Where all others failed, Jesus succeeded! Jesus conquered sin, death and hell! He is now seated at the Father’s right hand, the place of ultimate authority, the place of full joy, the place of eternal pleasures!

We are running a race that has already been won! We are following in the footsteps of the Ultimate Champion! He is our Supreme Reward! Even in the worst of times, we can walk by faith and not by sight because the Captain of our salvation is the Leader and Completer of the Faith and our faith. You will be misunderstood, mocked, maligned, and misjudged, but preach the Gospel, stand for Christ, go where He calls you, stand tall for Him, go against the humanistic current, lead your family for Christ, pray boldly, sing loudly, study the Word fervently, give freely, and live by faith!!!!! Now, that’s adventure living!!!

By Faith